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8 incredible images of dead and dying stars

By: Katherine Butler on April 17, 2012, 6:34 p.m.
supernova remnant 1E0102.2-7219

Photo: NASA

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Dusty death of a massive star

This is an image of the supernova remnant 1E0102.2-7219, located about 200,000 light-years from Earth in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite to our Milky Way galaxy. Just what is a supernova remnant? As NASA describes, it is “made up of the messy bits and pieces of a massive star that exploded, or went supernova.” Supernovas are considered an integral part of the universal life chain. When massive stars die, they shoot radiation and hot gas into space, remnants of which can linger for thousands of years. In fact, supernovas are responsible for some of the biologically important elements on Earth such as oxygen, carbon and iron. As reports, “the iron in a person's blood, for example, is believed to have been made by supernovae explosions.”